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Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

May 10, 2021

The voters of England have spoken and, with few exceptions (which include London and Manchester) the majority seem to be as collectively mad as they were in the Brexit referendum and the last general election.

The voters of Hartlepool, the town which elected its monkey mascot as mayor in 2002, decided in last week’s by-election that they wanted an MP from Bojo the Clown’s party. (Hartlepool was one of the last bits of the northern red wall that didn’t crash down in the 2019 blue wave.)

Commentators say that Bojo (and thus the rest of his party) are currently getting a bounce due to the success of the vaccine roll out. If this is true, if that is the reason English voters opted for Tories in local elections, then they’re thick as planks. Yes, the creation of vaccines did help turn the page on the clusterfuck that was Johnson’s response to the pandemic, but that has little to do with him and his incompetent minions and everything to do with the overworked and still desperately underfunded NHS. If the vaccine roll out really was a factor, they should have voted for whoever was offering nurses a 20% pay rise instead of the party that thinks they should take 1% and be grateful. (Not that there seemed to be any political party trying to help nurses.)

Sir Keir Starmer (yes, that’s right – the current leader of the Labour party is a knight of the realm) was supposed to right his party’s ship. That didn’t work out so well.

I’m not saying everyone who voted Tory should have voted Labour. It may be easier to discern if you’re in the UK, but from where I’m sitting, many, many miles away, it is difficult to ascertain what the hell Starmer and the Labour party actually stand for these days. Like him or loathe him – and the jury came back on that in 2019 – at least you knew what Jeremy Corbyn stood for. (The majority of voters may not have agreed, but I stand by my contention that the people of Britain would be better served if the utility companies and the railways were renationalised.)

But the UK isn’t the US. There are actually more than two parties. Disgruntled Labour voters could have gone LibDem or even Green, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Some voters did figure this out. Anyone paying attention to Scotland knows how important the Green vote was there, but, sticking to England, the Greens did quite well indeed and as for the Lib Dems, well, it could have been worse. (Exciting news for the Greens in Bristol where they are now in joint control of the council.)

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, but I just don’t understand most English voters. Okay, smug, well-off Middle Englanders, I get why they’d vote Tory. I’m all right, Jack and all that. But the ones who voted for Brexit and then gave Bojo a huge majority to “get the job done”? Nope, not a clue how they could think this was going to turn out well for them.

I despair. I truly do.

From → Columns

2 Comments
  1. krysross permalink

    I also despair. (And always seem to turn to conspiracy theories. Putin activating all the old Cold War sleeper cells. Hell, it could be a novel plot.)

  2. John Galpin permalink

    Firstly, Johnson is getting clearly getting a bounce from the vaccine roll-out which you correctly state is entirely due to the NHS but also parts of the Armed Forces in some areas. In other words, the very people offered a 1% pay rise in the case of the NHS and a 10% reduction in personnel in the other. He also inherited all the previous pro-leave voters who supported Farage and UKIP.

    The easiest way of explaining what is happening here is to simply say that Johnson is our Trump and the Conservative Party is now the populist party of choice. Particularly for the less educated members of society in traditional Labour Party areas who feel they have been left behind and their industries ignored by previous governments.

    That these governments were also Conservative makes no difference, as Johnson’s popularity is based on their belief he is the “outsider” who “Got Brexit Done” against the establishments wishes. Quite how a wealthy journalist educated at Eton and Oxford got to become viewed as an outsider is partly down to his clownish behaviour certainly.

    More seriously, it’s also down to his serial lying, the fact that 80% of the popular press in the UK are hard right-leaning and having established a new Tory Governor-General at the BBC there is virtually zero examination of his lies, corruption, racism, misogyny or general lack of any personal morality reaching these voters.

    Just as Trump boasted about 5th Avenue, Johnson could walk down Piccadilly, shoot someone (preferably foreign) in broad daylight and nobody would give a damn.

    Until Labour wake up and realise that the only way to fix this with our absurd first past the post voting system is to form a progressive alliance with the Greens, Lib Dems and SNP there will be no change as far as I can see for a decade or more. The only European country with the same archaic voting system as us is Belarus.

    And just to cap it all, in today’s “Queen’s speech” it was announced measures would be introduced to restrict voting to only those with photo-ID. This is apparently to prevent voter fraud, of which there is virtually none, Voter suppression just like in Republican states.

    I too despair…

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